Can I ask a dumb question, PCK? Why did Nyx make vampires, well, vampires? You explicitly had Lenobia say that vampires enjoy blood drinking to discourage them from hurting people. So why even make blood drinking a thing at all then? Why not just make them into some sort of druid creature that eats bark and communes with the sun?
I only ask because you’ve literally missed the entire point of vampires. I thought Meyer fucked it up when she turned them into underwear models fresh from a rave who moonlighted as superheroes and only drink blood on the weekend when no one’s looking. At least the Meyer-pires were still fucking predators, even if they were so toothless they’d need dentures to gum a hobo to death.
Which is irritating as there was a point where I was certain PCK understood vampires better than Meyer. Sure they were part of some hippy-dippy, new agey, touchy feely religion but they had the impulse to drink blood. And they didn’t shy away from human blood drinking either which meant they should have run into the sticky moral questions of tapping a live human once in awhile. Which gave them at least one downside. Now PCK is backtracking and trying to make it out as just one of those things that humans misunderstand and a couple of bad, but rare, vampires abuse.
Anywho, we’re with Aphro now who’s watching MacVampy carve another line into Stark’s side. If more of the vampire rituals required some sort of sacrifice rather than just burning some potpourri, this might get interesting. Aprho asks if MacVampy has to keep slashing at Stark now that he’s crossed over into the spirit realm.
“Yes. His consciousness is here. It is also so completely attuned with the boy that he can hear his heartbeat—feel his breathing. Seoras knows exactly how close Stark is to physical death. It is on the cusp between life and death that my Guardian must keep him. Too much one way, his soul will return to his body, and he will awaken. Too much the other, his soul will never return at all.”
Wait, what? So if Stark is wounded enough to be near dead, why does MacVampy have to keep hurting him? Is Stark healing so fast that he needs to be wounded further? Because if he’s not, MacVampy is just making sure Stark is likely to die. Or are vampires no longer capable of bleeding out?
Sgiach suggests Aphro help Stark out and Aphro asks how. Sgiach says that she’s Nyx’s “prophetess” and she should use her powers. Uh, how exactly does receiving visions of the future help Stark who’s off in Neverland? Sgiach says she should figure it out for herself and sends them off to some room to think on it.
On the way there, Aphro descends into the mire of insecurity. She asks Darius if he thinks her mouth gets her in trouble. Darisu says yes and she says she only says what she means. Darius says that she uses her words like a “dagger” which makes her sad. How can he like her being as she’s so mean? I miss the Aphro who had so much confidence her ego resided in another zip code. Can we go back to the Aphro who didn’t fret over whether she was good enough for her boyfriend like she’s a tween fresh into a training bra?
Darius’s answer is that he loves her for who she is even though Aphro thinks all of the qualities he lists are what makes her a bitch. Yes, Aphro, he just has a thing for tsundere. He says she can help Stark, she doesn’t know how and Darius says to just do what she did to Kalona and Zoey. Aphro says okay and kneels down to pray to Nyx who not only talks to her but invites her into the spirit realm.
Aphrodite’s spirit flew over Nyx’s Otherworld. It was almost indescribably lovely, with endless variations of green, brilliant flowers that swayed as if to music, and sparkling lakes. Aphrodite thought she caught sight of wild horses and the many-colored flash of peacocks in flight.
Wait, if it was that easy then why does Stark have to be beaten near death to go there? Also, good place to use “indescribable”. It really saved you from stretching your creative muscles there, PCK. Aphro asks if that where they go when they die. Nyx says sometimes and we learn that Nyx, although their “goddess”, she says she’s not the judge.
Aphro appears before Zoey and Heath who are discussing her soul and they can’t hear Aphro. Heath tells Zoey to pull herself together, Zoey says she can’t and he says she must. He forgives her for getting him killed, saying it’s not her fault though it is. She says she just wants to stay with him so she does. Only, fake out, this was merely a vision of a possible future.
Nyx then shows Aphro a vision of the future if Zoey doesn’t come back. It’s mostly Kalona and Neferet running around making people burn while not dying. So they can bring hell on earth but Stepdad is wrong for fearing vampires? Then Aphro sees Stevie with, gasp, a raven. Which bothers her until she sees what he looks like.
Even through the pain and shock caused by her vision, Aphrodite could appreciate how
incredibly gorgeous this new kid was. His body was amazing, and he was mostly naked, so there was a lot of it showing. His hair was thick and long, and as black as the raven feathers that were braided into its length. He was tall and muscular and just super hot in general.
Which are all important details we had to be made aware of, again. Stevie is upset because Rephy is being called back to the darkside by Kalona. Aphro says they must bring Zoey back. Nyx says all they can do is give them knowledge but they(being Zoey, Stark and Heath) have to make their choices.
Aphro comes back to reality then runs back to Stark, telling McVampy she has to talk to him. MacVampy says they can bring him back briefly but if they don’t get it right, he won’t be able to go back until he recovers which could take weeks. Which puts to bed the theory that he’s healing so fast and that’s why MacVampy has to keep cutting him. MacVampy then whispers into Stark’s ear that he has to come back.
Over to Stark who’s got plenty of breath to talk for a man who’s busy sword fighting himself. Blah blah blah, why are you doing this, it’s the only way blah blah. Evil Stark admits that what he is, saying he’s the not-so-nice part of him, which if fucking ridiculous. The brick wall that servers as Stark’s skull finally get’s penetrated by thought.
“You’re the bad in me.”
Holy shit, it’s just like that TV/movie/book that PCK ripped this off from! If you’re going to trot out a trope that’s put on mileage going around the block, at least make it interesting. They slash at one another while talking as we all know sword fighting is less taxing than channel surfing. Both Stark’s take a wound and then Stark surfaces from unconsciousness for a moment.
He gasps that he has to go back, forgetting that he’s paused. Aphro tells Stark that Heath is the key and that he has to move on so Zoey can fix herself. Stark then asks how he fights himself before they knock him back. Stark then remembers hearing that the warrior within must die before he can become the Shaman.
Yes, folks, he has to just stop fighting his bad self and probably join it. Stark gets back into the magical fight and begins listing his faults, saying that he’s too arrogant and that’s why his master died. Evil Stark tries to fight it, saying that no, he’s the one who’s evil. Evil Stark also starts fighting harder and PCK feels the need to spell it out for the audience.
I have to give him an opening to kill me.
Only PCK seems confused. He drops his guard, evil Stark attacks, Stark dodges and then beats Evil Stark. He then stabs the shadow Stark to death and when he removes the sword, it’s a whole new weapon. MacVampy is telling him that it’s a magic claymore of super legendary-ness that’s only for those who value honor above life. Stark is also told that if he makes this choice, it’s a hard path because who guards the guardian and blah blah blah. Psuedo mystical bullshit that PCK once read in Eragon or another similar, off the rack fantasy novel.
Stark takes the sword and cuts the evil Stark’s head off, sending him off to an honorable death. Stark is shocked by that but it doesn’t last because no one in this series feels anything longer than the half life of hyrdrogen 7. Stark then swears an oath to protect Zoey and then he finds himself in a grove. He decides he has to find Heath, though he wants to find Zoey. Though he does stop so the narrator can describe how wonderful Nyx’s realm is but in a very vague way.
Then he realizes that finding Zoey will take him to Heath. Love won’t help him though, honor will. I’m still puzzled on how honor will act as a guide. Apparently though, all he needs to do is say that honor is stronger than love. This causes a golden line to appear which will act as a quest arrow and guide him to the next act. His objective updates and Stark marches off towards the plot.